Now that 2015 has come to an end, I thought it was time to reflect on the best (and worst) places I tried in 2015. I’m keeping this list to Chicago, though everyone knows some of the best food I’ve had this year was in Austin.
Other than an extensive cocktail menu, Avec has it all. It’s perfect for dinner, brunch, and a relatively quick and reasonably priced lunch. They also feature an amazing Friends of Avec brunch series one Sunday a month and, of course, the chorizo stuffed bacon wrapped dates that sabotaged my pescetarianism of 5 years.
PIF and I try to live by the rule that we should only eat dinner out when it’s something we can’t make at home. Kai Zan, more than anything else in Chicago, fits that description. Simply put, it is the best sushi in Chicago and a lesson that some things are worth the money.
Amazing cocktails (we recommend El Chingon) and delicious, unique food. Also a favorite for family dinners, especially if yours is as loud as mine.
My favorite bar in Chicago. What can I say? I love gin & tonics and not having strained vocal cords at the end of a night out.
Quick, healthy, and on the way to the Loop, Beatrix tops the list of best places to get breakfast before work.
Tired of omelets and waffles? This brunch is for you.
Whole Foods 5 for 5
Every Friday at the DePaul location, you can get 5 glasses of wine and five small plates for $5. And, if you keep your glass and bring it back in the future, you can get it all for $4. Perfect after a long week of work and for those on a budget.
Unfortunately, we only got in here for lunch this year. But Embeya is truly a gem. During our short visit before the office noticed I was missing, we had 4 dishes, all of which were amazing, learned all about the interior décor (which is to die for) and even got the recipe to their green papaya salad dressing.
The Cliché Locations We Tried and Loved
Think a $20 cocktail isn’t worth it? Trust me. It’s worth it.
As young 20-somethings ooing and aweing, we probably stuck out like sore thumbs. But unlike many gourmet restaurants, Alinea didn’t make us feel as though we were any different than the high rollers across the way (well, besides that they got a special menu). The sommelier, who is absolutely wonderful, even informed us that we’re welcome to share the wine pairing on our next visit.
Surprisingly hearty portions. Brightly colored food. A brilliant sommelier. Topolo is unpretentious, completely unique, and downright fun gourmet.
Great ambiance, wonderful for a celebratory dinner. Prepare to shell out, though.
Got tourists? Hit up Cindy’s on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association for brunch or drinks.
We came for Prix Fixe lunch, but even so, Blackbird was a bit boring and a bit salty.
I met my dad and his client here for lunch. She’s Brazilian, so they arrived about 30 minutes late for a 1 o’clock reservation when lunch service ends at 2. However, the way Naha rushed us (I’m talking three servers standing nearby and staring as we ate) was frankly unprofessional and deeply uncomfortable. Especially for the Michelin stars and the price tag. That said, the food was worth a re-do, once I get over the pain of the bill we paid for such an awkward meal.
I get it. I’m on a budget and not ordering $150 glasses of green chartreuse (as much as I wanted to!) nor can I afford the $300 white truffle risotto like the group of bankers nearby. But don’t make me more conscious of this fact than I already am! You don’t know what my future holds! (or is it that obvious…)
The Wiener’s Circle
I summed up my feelings earlier this year in a Yelp post and do not want to exert further energy on this hellhole.
HORRIBLE and enough to make me renounce Yelp FOREVER! Taste like hospital food even though it looks good. DON’T BE FOOLED!
I’m still not over the worst $50 I ever spent. Good thing I invested in oil.